1 – 3 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

Plastic Bag

A person uses a plastic bag for an average of 12 minutes before disposal. When a bag enters the sea suffocation or entanglement may occur but
ingestion is the main issue.

Sea turtles often mistake bags for their favourite food of jelly fish and squid when seen floating in the water column.

(Since this project was created research now estimates that a plastic bag takes between 10 to 15 years to degrade in the sea).

LIGHTER from the series HONG KONG SOUP: 1826

Ingredients: discarded cigarette lighters

Discarded cigarette lighters make reference to our single-use throw away society. The panda, a national emblem of China represents endangered species and faces away from the group symbolising mother nature turning its back on man’s inability to take ownership of its waste.


Click on the image for the full screen photo

Indefinite

Indefinite shows plastic objects, presented unwashed and unaltered, as they were found on the shore.

The forms and shapes might seem reminiscent of sea creatures, but are actually man-made from different plastics. As they gradually break down into microplastic particles, they are likely to be eaten by fish and birds.

Based on information sources from 2010, the images are captioned with the estimated time it takes for discarded plastics to degrade in the sea.

Barker says, ‘Since this series was created, new research by polymer scientists has found that, unless burned, all the plastic ever produced is still with us on the planet and is merely fragmenting into ever smaller pieces. We should now regard the degradation time for marine plastics to be indefinite.’

To hear more about this series from Barker listen here:

1 year, or indefinite?

1 year, or indefinite?

Nylon Rope Rope can become entangled around the necks and beaks of curious animals, causing death as they grow larger ...
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1 - 3 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

1 – 3 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

Plastic Bag A person uses a plastic bag for an average of 12 minutes before disposal. When a bag enters ...
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1 - 5 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

1 – 5 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

Clothing and material Swallowing marine litter mistaken for food can damage the digestive tract of marine animals and also result ...
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10 - 20 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

10 – 20 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

Plastic Bag Seams Almost half of all marine mammal species including seals, whales and porpoises have been found dead from ...
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30 - 40 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

30 – 40 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

Nylon Tangled giant underwater balls of nylon rope, netting and other plastic debris, sometimes weighing up to one ton roll ...
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30 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

30 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

PVC Corals are destroyed when discarded fishing equipment, such as overalls, gloves, damaged lobster pots and nets drag along the ...
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400 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

400 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

Plastics - Mixed Plastic never biodegrades, it merely breaks down into smaller fragments. These microplastic particles and fibres are found ...
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450 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

450 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

Plastic Bottle 90% of marine rubbish found on coastlines worldwide is related to single-use plastics; bottles, tops, straws, food packaging ...
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600 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

600 YEARS, OR INDEFINITE?

Monofilament and macrofilament fishing line Fishing line affects the mobility of aquatic animals, once entangled they struggle to eat, breathe ...
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INDEFINITE

INDEFINITE

Polystyrene  The most significant and alarming offender to impact on marine life. When released into the environment it will never ...
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Beyond Drifting

In Beyond Drifting, Mandy Barker traces the footsteps of 19th century botanist John Vaughan Thompson.

Thompson collected and studied plankton, the ocean’s most basic life form, at Cobh, Cork Harbour, in Ireland. When Barker visited this site, her search revealed plastic wiring, fragments of bottles, discarded limbs of plastic dolls and other items now commonplace in our seas.

Barker photographed the plastic objects as pseudo-scientific specimens, drawing parallels between Thompson’s findings and her own. She highlights the similarities between the plankton and plastic which both now form the basis of our food chain.

Barker devised new scientific names for each ‘specimen’. These imitate original Latin words, and incorporate the word ‘plastic’.

Listen to Barker talk about this series of work:

Soup

‘Soup’ is the term for plastic debris suspended in the sea. It particularly refers to the mass accumulation in the North Pacific Ocean widely known as the ‘Garbage Patch’.

The plastics photographed for this series have been collected from beaches around the world. They represent a global collection of debris that demonstrates the mass of plastic in our seas.

Barker says, ‘This series concerns the relationship that sea creatures have with plastics. The creatures are initially attracted to the plastics and attempt to eat them, leading ultimately to their death.’

Listen to Barker talking about the Soup photographs here:

Click on each image to look more closely. The captions list the ‘ingredients’ that have been assembled to make the soup in each image.

SOUP: BIRD’S NEST
SOUP: RUINOUS REMEMBRANCE
LIGHTER from the series HONG KONG SOUP: 1826
SOUP: 500+
WILDLIFE from the series HONG KONG SOUP: 1826
SOUP: BURNT
SOUP: REFUSED

Plastic Fantastic?

“Plastic is not an intrinsically bad material, it is an invention that has changed the world. The plastic became bad due to the way that industries and governments use it and the way society has converted it into a disposable and single-use convenience…’

These are the opening words of the WWF Report 2019 (World Wildlife Fund) on plastic waste pollution on our planet.

Where does plastic waste come from? 

Many of us have heard about the problem of plastic in our oceans, but where does it come from?

Globally, over 80% of the yearly input comes from land-based sources, such as plastic packaging and bottles. Over 90% of the plastic waste that gets into the ocean is carried there by ten rivers in Asia and Africa. These rivers flow through areas of high population where people don’t have access to good waste disposal.

In contrast, in the UK, plastic which goes in our bins is either recycled, burned for energy or buried in a landfill.  This shouldn’t end up in the ocean if managed properly. Instead, the larger pieces of plastic that enter the sea come from plastic pellets produced by industry, littering and plastic from fishing nets and ropes.

Another important source are microplastics

Microplastics

Microplastics  are less than half a centimetre in size. They come from the wear and tear on car types, the breakdown of plastic litter, cosmetic microbeads  and from washing clothes containing man-made fibres. Information on the effects of microplastics is limited. However, we know they don’t biodegrade and so build up in the marine environment, where they can be ingested by animals. These microplastics can contain plastics that are toxic to animals.

Around the world

Worldwide, the United Nations says that the equivalent of a garbage truck’s worth of plastic reaches the ocean every minute causing a range of problems for wildlife here are just some of the effects:

Plastic waste kills up to 1 million sea-birds, 100,000 other marine animals and countless fish each year.

Birds and animals eat pieces of plastic which may choke them. Or they may get caught up in rubbish and be injured or die. Even if they don’t die, the animals may be weaker and less successful at reproducing.

Some plastics contain chemicals that last for a very long-time and are toxic to wildlife.

Take Action! 

Many people and organisations across the globe are coming up with innovative solutions and campaigns trying to tackle the plastic problem. From scientists to artists and litter heroes, in the coming months,  we will be highlighting just some of these projects.

Around the world, governments are committed to taking action and the World Economic Forum has proposed 8 Steps to solve the oceans plastic problem. In the UK, the Environment Bill allows for deposit schemes, charges for single-use plastics and charges for carrier bags.

Plastic science in Sussex

Marine Bioplastics – Sussex student wins award for developing a biodegradable plastic from fish waste

Discover the Our Plastic Oceans by Mandy Barker temporary exhibition or find out how you can take action in the fight against plastic at Brighton & Hove’s recycling page Brighton & Hove  or discover more ways you can get involved via the links below.

Local Activists!

Local Activists!

What can we learn from local inspiring activists? How can we all get involved? Here we shine a spotlight on ...
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Our Plastic Ocean, by Mandy Barker

Our Plastic Ocean, by Mandy Barker

8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year. If these trends continue, our oceans will ...
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